Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scallops and Arugula with Lentils and Butter Beans - Great Recipe, Horrible Soundtrack

One great thing about using Apple's iMovie editing software is the library of instrumental soundtracks that you can use as music in your video clips (Hey, Apple, you made billions last quarter, how about a donation for this plug?). There are a few dozen options, and if you've been watching my video recipes for a while, you've heard many of them.

This very delicious Scallops and Arugula with Lentils and Butter Bean recipe video features a soundtrack called "watercolor." At first listen, I thought it was a nice light tune to match with this savory spring dish. But, now that the clip is finished, and I've listened to it a few times, I realize that my scallops are accompanied by bad elevator music. So, please forgive me, and I'm sorry about all those dentist office waiting rooms this will remind you of.

In the clip I mention something called the "Maillard effect." It's the actual reaction that most cooks incorrectly call "caramelization." I could explain it to you in my own words, or simply copy and paste
from Wikipedia…guess which one this is:

"The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction."

I hope that clears things up. Enjoy!

1 pound scallops

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of cayenne

1 tsp paprika

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

1 lemon

12 oz jar butter bean (or any large cooked bean)

1 1/2 cup cooked lentils

1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs

2 large handfuls baby arugula


Anonymous said...

Terrific blog! The videos really help to see things like how hot the pan is, and how the dish is supposed to look throughout the process. My question is about cooking the scallops. When I saute scallops I always get a ton of liquid in the pan, preventing that nice "carmelization." I use frozen scallops, thaw in the frig overnight, wash and dry the scallops, but they still ooze water. What is the trick to prevent this?

Thanks and keep the videos coming!

Chef John said...

thanks! the trick is a very hot dry pan, and dry scallops with oil on them.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Yes, as always, a nice, informative video. I do have question though.

I don't recall hearing you mention "portions" in any of your recipes - and pardon me if I'm mistaken. But it would be nice if you could advise us as to the amount of people that is supposed to be fed with the result of such a recipe.

I thank you.

Chef John said...

well it depends. Since I always give an amount like 1 pound scallops, it could be 4 - 4oz small portions, or 2 larger 8oz ones. I guess I can try to give amounts. But they would just be suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Not so crazy about scallops, but I love elevator music!
Your video recipes R-O-C-K!

Chef John said...

Thanks, but dont you mean my video recipes E-L-A-V-A-T-O-R?

Anonymous said...

Chef, this is my favorite cooking video site by far. Nicely done.

Whenever I read about the Maillard reaction, I think of an instructor I had in culinary school who spent an entire semester talking about the Mallard (quack, quack) effect.

Chef John said...

thanks! lol

Anonymous said...

Great video. Seeing is believing. Love to try it out on my family. I wonder what is the calorie count on it

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef,
The last time you did a scallop recipe there was a bunch of talk about the actual searing of the scallops. And this one has produced another question from someone. It's no coincidence that I need to ask about it too.
I have a high end, non-stick frying pan. Whenever I attempt scallops (which isn't often) the scallops hit the pan and turn black within seconds, producing smoke, and sticks, rips, etc.
So here is the real question :
On you last scallop video you didn't mention to toss them in oil as you have in this one. You've also mentioned in one of your above responses "the trick is a very hot dry pan, and dry scallops with oil on them." Your last scallop video had you cook them with bacon grease, so that eliminates the "dry pan" part. And the "dry scallops with oil" part has me confused.

I've run your comments by my HAL 9000 super computer, but since receiving these seemingly conflicting orders all it wants to do is shut down all life support systems on the space station...

Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

Calories? You're asking the wrong chef. It's very healthy, soulful food that's full of flavor (and fiber) so to me the calories are irrelevant. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To Kris:

Frozen and often fresh scallops too have been injected with a water based compound to prolong their shelf life and to make them lily white. You can squeeze and squeeze the liquid out all you want but you'll never achieve the desired effect. You must buy fresh scallops and then ask the fish monger if they are dry scallops (they know the difference). The fresh dry sea scallops will come in a range of hues and that's a desired quality for the demanding cook. They will usually have a small membrane that needs to be peeled away or sliced off, if you don't do that it's ok but you'll get a gritty quality occasionally that's not good to the palate. Amazingly enough, I've been to better restaurants that don't know this. I don't bother to rinse them either before cooking, if you see a speck of sand just knock it off with your finger. I might try this dish tomorrow, lucky here in that it's scallop heaven, aside from the cost.

Chef John said...

I always toss my scallops in oil and cook them in a hot, dry pan. Accept when I don't.

Sometimes when I have already cooked in the pan like the bacon, I will just use the standard oil in pan, then scallops system.

Your problem doesn't seem to have anything to do with this oil issue. Above and beyond any debilitating lack of cooking skills, it sounds like your pan is simply too hot.

Scallops do brown very quickly. I'm no Alton Brown, but if they are turning black within seconds then the pan is too hot.

I would sacrifice a pound of those delicious Boston scallops, and do some test in a non-smoking pan.

Hope this helps!

Chef John said...

Bill, great info, but you don't need to always find fresh scallops to get ones that don't have any injected brine. The ones that Trader Joe's sell for example, are just unprocessed wild scallops, and when thawed and dried thoroughly, work great. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great vid and recipe! And I don't know what you were concerned about because I thought music was nice as well and fit the recipe. Thanks Chef!

Anonymous said...

Will do. I was going to test this weekend.

Thanks for all the info!

Scott - Boston

Anonymous said...

Just noticed in your response to my question, you'd said "Above and beyond any debilitating lack of cooking skills..."
I didn't catch that at first. Nice one. It's like being insulted by Don Rickles. A real honor!

Thanks for the laughs as well as the food.

Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

Thanks! Don and I do share a similar hair style.

kellypea said...

Love scallops and white beans regardless of the music. And to avoid the "boiling" you refer to, I dry ours between towels for a good while to dry them before searing in a skillet with olive oil. This really looks like a great recipe. You do such a nice job with the videos!

And I don't know how well you know Scott from Boston up there, but he's completely hilarious!

Chef John said...

Thanks! ...and yes he is.

Steffen P said...

No video availible for Denmark once again.. :(

Seems to be every new youtube video..

Chef John said...

Works for me, here in the US. Time is write the Minister of Information

hkfreak said...

Why do you take off the foot AFTER tossing? I know, it may be tougher to get off, but the stirring process acts as sort of a tenderizer. Why not just stir for a few seconds before taking it off? (Maybe a bit of olive oil, though)

Chef John said...

"...the stirring process acts as sort of a tenderizer..."

that's a new one. i must have missed that class.

Anonymous said...

I don't know there Chef, I could see some juices coming out of the scallops when you cooked them, I'll maintain that any scallop that's frozen will have at least some small amount of water in it. I like a "mixed grill" of seafood and will put some dry sea scallops, shrimps, some not so flaky fish like Mahi, and some squid in a mixing bowl and toss them with olive oil (just a tiny bit more than it takes to coat everything), sea salt, fresh ground pepper, old bay, and Italian seasoning. In the meantime, I'm heating a cast iron skillet on medium high heat (electric stove though)for 10 minutes till it's smoking hot (open your windows!!!). I then set a timer for 6 minutes, in goes the fish and scallops for two minutes on each side, remove to platter, toss the shrimp in and keep tossing them around the skillet for 1 1/2 minutes, remove to platter, toss in the squid and cook for 15 to 20 seconds, platter. I get perfectly cooked seafood every time but you have to like "blackened seafood". I never wash my skillet but wipe it out with olive oil till the black is gone.

For my girlfriend and I, scallops are a big part of our diet, we probably eat them twice a week (prepared different ways though which is why I look forward to any scallop recipe you put up and we will try this one tonight). We're also going to try your beet dish which I'm really looking forward to.

We like the squiggly part of the squid more so than the tube part. If you cook them like I mentioned above, you'll get a really cool looking spider effect that's both tender and with a bit of a crunch, absolutely delicious and squid have about the same healthful benefits as fish.

Sorry for the long posting but cooking seafood is a passion.

I wish we had a Trader Joe's nearby.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm. Looks great, and I just love a dairy-free recipe. Many thanks for your creative ideas and your blog!

Chef John said...

Yes, of course a little water comes out when using the thawed variety. I just meant they were not soaked in a brine, like sea scallops are, to infuse extra water into the meat.

My choices here for scallops are frozen, wild, unprocessed ones from TJ's, or fresh, sea scallops that are processed in preservative brine and have tons of water in them.

BTW, your mixed grill sounds great!

Anonymous said...

Alright!!! this dish is great, the lemon and arugula go together well. Aside from 6 large dry scallops we added a piece of pollack and I thought the fish absorbed the flavors a bit better than the scallops, will make this again.

Chef John said...

Sounds great. I don't see pollack around here very often. Except, of course, in the fake crab.

Anonymous said...

Pollack has been in our waters in abundance since last November, I went deepsea fishing in early December and caught 125 lbs of it, I figured it was the first time ever I got my money's worth (aside from the enjoyment aspect) of fish. But, lol, the next day at our supermarket it was going for $2 a lb so, once again, I lost a few bucks. Scallops are running from $12 - $14 here.

Anonymous said...

The last word on scallops :

My girlfriend loves loves loves scallops, but swore off making them at home about 3 months ago, after years and years of not being able to figure "the secret." In my above comments I must admit I tried to paraphrase her problem (according to her "poorly").

For Mother's Day I took all of the scallop talk from this recipe as well as your last scallop recipe and went to work.
Tossing the scallops in oil (I added just a bit of butter, too) is THE ONLY WAY TO GO! Hence, the "too too hot pan" became a non-issue and I presented her with the best homemade scallops she'd ever had!

To tell you how good they were, Henry Winkler was two blocks away signing books at a bookstore and we didn't go. Yep, true story. We just sat and ate scallops. Meeting the Fonz be damned!

The scallops were that good.


Thanks again Chef,
Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

Now, that's a compliment! I feel like I just jumped a shark.

Unknown said...

This was so delicious and simple. Oh, and healthy.

I'm trying to watch my carbs (good vs "bad") so was looking at scallops and steamed vegetables for dinner and thinking how hungry I was going to be afterwards, then I found your recipe. Perfect. I made the full recipe for the lentils and beans, then added scallops for two, so I have leftovers for lunch too. Added some steamed bok choy and asparagus and it was perfect.

I'll be back looking for more. Thanks!

Jesse A. B. said...

The opening had me prepped for some PBS cooking show—"the joy of cooking food wishes with chef john" some happy clouds got nothing on happy scallops.